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Long-term TV shoots impacting Toronto studios

Star Trek DiscoveryToronto is in demand as a TV production location but this is impacting the studio space available for films and smaller shoots.

Toronto has several high-profile studios, including Pinewood Toronto Studios. However, Pinewood’s ‘Mega Stage’ – spanning nearly 46,000 sq ft – has been occupied for the past two years by sci-fi drama Star Trek: Discovery (pictured), according to a report in the Canadian Free Press.

The challenge for the city is that while long-term TV shoots deliver a sustained economic boost, other productions, such as big-budget films, can struggle to find the space they need when studio stages are booked for TV shoots on a long-term basis. 

Soaring demand for production space is prompting producers and location managers to think creatively for upcoming shoots. 

As is the case in many production hub cities around the world, location managers are increasingly looking for warehouses and other industrial spaces to turn into short-term adapted studios. But buildings of this sort often have structural limitations when they were not specifically designed as production spaces.

“They all have posts every 30 feet,” said Scott Alexander, a Toronto location manager, in comments to the outlet. “There are some older studio spaces that you work out of that if it rains really hard you can hear it on the roof.

“There are places where water leaks. There is a warehouse that we use that is close to a road and the soundproofing isn't completely in it. You have to bring police officers in to intermittently stop the traffic if you have major dialogue scenes.”

Toronto’s studio infrastructure is a persistent talking point in Hollywood boardrooms and the city’s production industry is responding by expanding existing facilities and developing new ones.

Pinewood and Cinespace Studios both have expansion plans in place. Elsewhere, CBS Stages is scheduled to open later this year and Markham Movieland is set to offer North America’s largest sound stage sometime in 2020.   

In the short-term, the focus will likely remain on making the best of short-term warehouse solutions.

See KFTV's production guide for more on filming in Ontario.

Main page image: Kovar. Article image: CBS